Neighbors Organize Canvassing for Midterm Elections

Moira Kelly, far left, welcomes over 100 neighbors to a political action canvassing workshop at a home in Brookside.

A week ago, just over one hundred people gathered in a large backyard in Brookside to learn how to “pound the pavement” to get more democrats elected in the upcoming mid-term elections. The event, appropriately called “#Pavementpounders Canvassing Workshop” was organized by Windsor Square resident Moria Kelly with the help of  Sonja Berndt, Helen Eigenberg,  Angela Gyetvan, Andy Goodman, Janna Harris, Jennifer Levin, Henry Mantel, Shannon Murphy, and Barnaby Murff who were surprised and delighted by the turnout.

Kelly welcomed the group explaining that she had had organized the afternoon’s workshop to make sure that “America remains a representative democracy.” She started with her personal story of how she recently retired from her job as a critical care nurse at UCLA medical center for 35 years with plans to to climb mountains and discover the world but then, she said, “Donald Trump was elected president.”

“I left South Africa in 1977, fed up with the racist, patriarchal structure of the country,” said Kelly. “As Trump’s agenda became very clear to me, I heard some very familiar rhetoric and witnessed practices that took me back to the nightmare that I thought I’d left behind all those years ago. I needed to be sure that I did everything that I could to make sure that his racist, sexist, homophobic anti-democratic actions would be resisted and subverted.”

After struggling with what to do on her own, Kelly explained she found women in her neighborhood and friends from her past who were already practicing resistance. Their efforts focused on stopping the Trump agenda by gaining back the congress for the Democrats, which she said could be done without depending on Democratic leadership which she admitted concerns her at times.

Kelly told the group that Democrats need to win 23 seats to flip the house from Republican control back to the Democrats. Seven of those seats are in California and four of those seats are just 90 minutes away from Los Angeles.

“My friends, we are here today to dedicate ourselves to doing everything we can to flip these districts and take back the House,” said Kelly. “This is important work that will produce results. We are not here to change the hearts and minds of Republicans, but rather to make sure that every Democrat or Democratic leaning voter gets up to vote on November 6.”

Kelly and her committee invited representatives of the four targeted races to speak to the group: Harley Rouda, who is running against Rep, Dana Rorhabacher of the 48th Congressional District in Newport Beach; Mike Levin, who is running against Rep. Diane Harkey, 49th Congressional District in San Diego County; Katie Hill, who is running against Rep. Steve Knight in the 25th Congressional District in Santa Clarita; and Katie Porter who is running in the 45th Congressional District in Irvine against Rep. Mimi Walters.  All the races are considered a toss-up at this point.

For many, the highlight of the afternoon was a pep talk from Jane Fonda, actress and longtime activist who was introduced by Laura Cohen, who hosted the event. Cohen said she was honored to introduce Fonda, who served as a role model who is “on the right side of history while making meaningful contributions to American culture.”

After Fonda took a photo of the group to post on her Instagram account, she thanked the organizers and pronounced there were only 107 days left before the mid-terms (now 99) to do something as “important as anything I can think of in my eighty long years. There’s so much at stake.” said Fonda. Going door to door and talking to everyone is more important than television ads, explained Fonda offering anecdotes about her experiences.

“I am now convinced, because I have been doing this for decades all over the country, that in a way, you get more out of it than the person who answers the door, because you learn so much in a short amount of time,” said Fonda. She said she was kind of sad that the group would only be knocking on doors of Democrats because you learn so much more from talking to people who don’t agree with you. She encouraged the group to get out of their comfort zone. She urged the group to really listen because people can tell the difference. She told the group that canvassing was an opportunity to be compassionate when you encounter people who exhibit bad behavior which she said comes from a place of deep hurt. In closing, she urged everyone to do this hard work and keep doing it, stay involved and hold the candidates elected to keep their promises.

Jane Fonda addresses #Pavementpounders canvassing workshop in Brookside.

Last weekend, one of the organizers, Janna Harris told the Buzz she spent the weekend canvassing.

“Rather than just staying home and worrying or complaining about where our country is headed politically, I’ve found that it feels much better to go out and actually speak to people, and educate them about the importance of voting,” said Harris.

“Many people whose doors I’ve knocked on when canvassing in the South Bay, care about healthcare access for all or keeping the ocean clean from oil spills  or making sure that children aren’t kidnapped and taken away from their parents who are seeking asylum in the United States, but they don’t know when the elections are and their significance,” explained Harris. “They don’t realize that if they don’t like the changes that have happened since 2016 when Trump was elected, that the way to do something about it is to flip the House of Representatives from a Republican to a Democrat majority in order to be able to put some controls on the Republican agenda. That means they must register to vote and either show up to vote or vote by mail. They don’t know that their one vote can truly make all the  difference and how important it is for them to participate.”

#Pavementpounders is using a web platform called Mixr to organize events. Windsor Square resident Angela Gyetvan, a consultant for Mixr, told the Buzz the platform is designed to help group organizing and community building. There are lots of great tools built in that allow creation of very viral groups and share organizational responsibility.

“We are also very protective of identity, said Gyetvan. “Nothing will be sold to Cambridge Analytica!” she added, referring to the company that was allowed to mine the data of millions of Facebook users without their consent.

Our neighborhoods have always been home to active citizens. As the mid-terms approach, the Buzz will be reporting on how local residents are getting involved in these important elections. We welcome suggestions from readers about activities of local residents regardless of their political affiliation. If you have story suggestions, please email us at info@larchmontbuzz.com.

#pavementpounders canvassing workshop organizers” (l-r) Henry Mantel, Barnaby Murff, Helen Eigenberg, Moira Kelly, Jane Fonda, Angela Gyetvan, Shannon Murphy, Sonja Berndt, Ruthe Benton and Janna Harris.

 

 

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About Patricia Lombard

Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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